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Saturday, May 17, 2003

In search of Karen's Chinese stationary store. The first Chinese bookstore I wandered in was on the second floor, through this narrow stairwell. The three men behind the counter seemed shocked. I went up to them and explained that I was hunting for a certain type of Japanese paper on which intersecting ink lines seem to float above each other. They said they don't carry paper. I asked if they knew of a stationary store that did. They spent a long time discussing leads in Cantonese.

I looked around. Stacks of wrapped pornography, the more high class type I would see in Taiwanese convenience stores. (I first noticed these when I learned the Chinese character for naked.)

The three porno bookshop men made up their minds. "Just walk along Pender in the opposite direction, on this side of the street, and you will find a helpful bookstore."

That bookstore had a coffee shop in the front and the books behind. Woody shelves with immaculate Taiwanese novels and comics. The cookbooks were bilingual. I found Chinese calligraphy paper and ink, but when I asked about that Japanese paper, the clerk told me to try the corner of Main and Pender. I replaced my items on the shelf and set off, promising I would return if I couldn't find anything there.

The corner of Main and Pender had lots of knickknacks and some lovely $3 Chinese paper-cut cards. I asked about Japanese paper. They sent me back to the bookstore I just came from. On the way I found another bookstore but it was just a bookstore. On the way home I found yet another stationary store. I asked about the Japanese paper. No, only Chinese calligraphy paper. I did buy a brush when I remembered that my own brushes were crushed in a box for the last six years.

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